Code with a Cause

@4240, Cortex Innovation Community / St. Louis, MO / February 9-11, 2018

Code with a Cause

Code with a Cause is a hackathon that benefits nonprofit organizations in the Greater St. Louis region. During this 48-hour event, teams of technologists (developers, designers, project managers) are partnered with a nonprofit that has pre-identified a specific software need. At the end of the hackathon, the project is then given to the nonprofit to implement within their organization.

*Our 2018 event is complete. For information about Code with a Cause 2019, please sign up for our newsletter!

Check out photos from Code with a Cause 2018

How it Works

The event starts on a Friday evening, where each of the selected nonprofits presents their technology challenge to all of the hackathon participants. Based on interest, participants will then select which project or ‘cause’ they would like to work on that weekend.

Each nonprofit will need to provide an organization representative that will help guide their technical team during the weekend. While it will not be required for that person to be on site during the entire weekend, the more input and direction they can provide, the stronger their product will be. Both in-person and remote (on-call) mentors will be available to float amongst the teams to offer specific technical help. These mentors may lend specific expertise with design, data systems, copywriting, etc.

The event culminates on Sunday afternoon with a slew of final project presentations and a celebration of what each team has accomplished. After the event, participants are encouraged, but not required, to maintain a relationship with their nonprofit.


*Our 2018 event is complete. For information about Code with a Cause 2019, please sign up for our newsletter!

Are you a software developer, designer, or project manager? None of the above, but have a passion for technology? Register as a participant for Code with a Cause! Your registration fee covers (6) meals, snacks and drinks over the course of the weekend. You can sign up individually or as a team. If you sign up individually, you’ll have an opportunity on Friday evening to create a team or join an existing one.

Nonprofit FAQ

How do you select your partner nonprofits?

A small committee solicits applications from nonprofit organizations in the Greater St. Louis area who need help overcoming a technology problem. Project submissions vary from digitizing paper processes, streamlining donor databases, or setting up an online donation portal. The committee will review the submitted applications and roughly ten projects will be selected. The specifics of each project, as well as the identify of the selected organizations, are not shared until the beginning of the hackathon.

If my nonprofit is selected to participate, what happens if no one wants to work on my project?

Projects that are unable to recruit enough participants for their project will be assigned team members who are comfortable switching groups. We are committed to ensuring no organization is left behind!

How can Code with a Cause help my nonprofit organization?

Nonprofit organizations are constantly operating with limited budgets and time, which means technology projects or upgrades are difficult to launch or implement. If selected, a team of dedicated, diverse team of technology professionals will be at your disposal to help solve your specific technology challenge.

If my nonprofit is selected, what will I be responsible for?

There is no cost for organizations to apply for or to participate as nonprofit partners at Code with a Cause. If your nonprofit is selected, our staff will work with a representative from each organization to prepare them for the event so they can take full advantage of the hackathon.

What’s the time commitment?

Developers working with your organization will be at Code with a Cause for most of the weekend — some may actually sleep at the venue! Although not all nonprofit representatives need to be present at the hackathon for the entire 48 hours, the more accessible you are, the more successful the project will be. Nonprofits will need to be available Friday evening for our event kick-off, and should plan to be available for their team in-person periodically during the day Saturday and Sunday. During the times a representative from your nonprofit is not present, someone should be available by phone/text/Slack to answer any questions from your team.

As a nonprofit, what kinds of projects can I submit?

Here are some examples of projects that would be good ideas for submission (this list is not exhaustive):

Website Improvements

  • Functionality limitations
  • Accessibility issues
  • Mobile responsiveness
  • Hosting
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)


  • Create online and/or mobile giving portals
  • Donor management systems (see our note below — “When will you say ‘no’ to a project?”)
  • Help combine or merge databases

Education, Outreach and Advocacy

  • Build mini-site or educational platform to educate users on your mission
  • Showcase publications, research or other expertise in your organization
  • Projects involving maps or data visualizations
  • Basic assessment tools that help people navigate your programs

Improve Existing Systems

  • Move paper forms or processes online
  • Build web-based system to track clients
  • Make your CRM more effective
  • Streamline calendar functionality
  • Streamline board communication

Database Improvements

  • Build a staff development database
  • Centralize database information
  • Create a database search functionality
What kinds of projects won’t you select?
  • We cannot accept any projects that involve confidential client data or information protected by HIPAA or other regulatory frameworks.
  • We are not a replacement for purchasing accounting software, or a commercially available donor database.
  • We are not a replacement for commercially-available products like QuickBooks, Volunteer Local, Raiser’s Edge/Nationbuilder/Salsa (or the hundreds of other donor database options out there), MailChimp, Eventbrite, or Constant Contact.
How do you decide what nonprofits to choose? What are your criteria?

Variety: We try to admit nonprofits who work in a variety of areas, and we are looking for unique, fun project ideas that will give our technologist participants a chance to showcase their skills.

Realistic Expectations: We want you to leave with a successful project, so we think a lot about what can be accomplished in the 48 hour time frame of the event. If you have questions or concerns about how much time your project will take, contact us at

Social Impact & Benefit: We also consider the potential impact to the community and the nonprofit from completing the project. Will the project really help people? Will it make a complicated task easier?

More unique challenges (such as dealing with databases, communication tools and application development) are engaging for our participants, and will give you a better chance of being admitted. Throw us a curveball! You’d be surprised what teams can accomplish over 48 hours. Contact us for help figuring out what project ideas will be a good fit (

Can we submit multiple project ideas?

Nonprofits are welcome to submit multiple project ideas, and will need to fill out a complete application for each idea you want to submit. It may be possible to combine multiple proposals into one project, given that the scope of work is realistic for the hackathon timeframe.